Reviews written by registered user
gbheron

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479 reviews in total 
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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful Music, 25 September 2005
9/10

When I rented Buena Vista Social Club I didn't have any appreciation for the type of music played by the Club; I still don't know what it's called. I rented the movie because I'm a Ry Cooder fan, and have seen some Wim Wenders' movies I liked. I wasn't expecting much, but the result is that I've just seen one of the best documentaries in my life. The premise is very simple, it's all about the old musicians and the wonderful music they make. You get to visit their modest homes, hang out in their neighborhoods, and listen to their music. Nothing more than that, but done so well, so effortlessly, you wish you could step through the screen and join them. I would recommend this film to anyone.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Junior High is Hell, 27 July 2005
7/10

Junior High must be the tenth circle of Hell. How do any of us scrawny, not-cool geeks survive it? Perhaps we don't, and all our adult neurosis trace back to 7th grade homeroom and not Mom after all.

Not convinced? Watch Welcome to the Dollhouse and relive Hell.

Dawn Wiener is the protagonist, an awkward 7th grader who is put-upon by everyone from her family to schoolmates. She suffers a multitude of insults, all too small to register with adults who could help, but which inflict a thousand darts to her soul. The movie made me cringe, unearthing long suppressed memories of adolescent cruelties and torment at the hands of bullies. Is this entertainment? Absolutely, Todd Solondz did an admirable job in his freshman movie.

Too Little Material for a Movie, 6 July 2005
6/10

I'm not hip anymore, if I ever was. But in my teens I sure was a dopey, foul-mouthed, slacker and relying on the memories of that experience I can understand the appeal of JSBSB. That squirrelly demographic surely has to be Ken Smith's target audience, he's sure not shooting for the Merchant/Ivory crowd. That said then, does he hit his intended targets?

Yes, but not nearly enough of the time. What is essentially sketch comedy is forced into a (dumb) linear plot and stretched out far too long. Jay and Silent Bob could thrive within the confines of a 30-minute TV program, albeit it would have to be on cable. But trying to tell a movie-length story? Nope. There are some very funny bits, but plenty more time is spent on trying to establish a narrative arc that just isn't there. It didn't work.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Sandler Lays (Another) Egg, 12 June 2005
4/10

My problem with Anger Management is not that it's another comedic misfire by Adam Sandler, but that he takes Jack Nicholson down with him. Mr. Nicholson has done excellent work in comedy in the past. But they were roles with substance; good direction, script, and supporting actors. And even his most dramatic roles seem tinged with a sardonic humor such as Jake Gittes, or the whacked-out 'Heeeres Johnny!'. Anger Management is just a piece of fluff with nothing behind it, particularly a decent script. The script seems solely designed as a series setups for Sandler and Nicholson to bask in the limelight and overact. It's unseemly.

Sandler playing Sandler was not very funny when it was fresh, but now it's getting tiresome. I can see why Sandler needed Nicholson, but I don't understand why Nicholson accepted.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sandler Lays (Another) Egg, 27 June 2004
4/10

My problem with Anger Management is not that it's another comedic misfire by Adam Sandler, but that he takes Jack Nicholson down with him. Jack has done some excellent work in comedy in the past. But they were roles with substance; good direction, script, supporting actors. Anger Management is a piece of fluff with nothing behind it, particularly a decent script. The script seems solely designed as a series setups for Sandler and Nicholson to bask in the limelight and overact. It's unseemly.

Sandler playing Sandler was not very funny when it was fresh, him newly minted from his hysterical stint on SNL. But now it's getting tiresome. I can see why Sandler needed Nicholson, but I don't understand why Nicholson accepted.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Good Movie, Great Soundtrack, 25 March 2004
8/10

F. Gary Gray has created a very effective high-speed caper flick. Nothing too deep, just the basic elements delivered with style and flash. These elements include the members of the gang; the sage leader, his number one, the tactician, geek, and explosives guy. Then there's the initial big heist, betrayal and death, another theft that is bigger than the first, while not forgetting the obligatory chase scenes, other cliffhangers, and romance. The characters are portrayed by a well-rounded ensemble cast who usually resist chewing the scenery. The directing is competent and abetted by a great soundtrack. No overreaching by Mr. Gray, he delivers a straight, just-for-entertainment story, and does it very well.

59 out of 73 people found the following review useful:
Clooney Plays a Weird Story Straight Up, 4 March 2004
7/10

What if the creator and host of two of the 1970s biggest and lamest television game shows was also a part-time CIA hitman? That he used The Dating Game and The Gong Show as a cover to stage assassinations in the netherworld of Cold War espionage. Ridiculous you'd say. But that's what exactly what Chuck Barris claims in his autobiography, and Charlie Kaufman accepts carte blanche as the premise for his screenplay. The film plays it straight up as if Barris were telling the truth.

Can Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, and George Clooney, the director pull it off? Mostly. It is competently acted by Sam Rockwell as Barris, Julia Roberts as a fellow spy, Drew Barrymore as his love interest, and director George Clooney as his CIA recruiter and handler. The bizarre landscape, a marriage of television and espionage, is presented without a smirk or wink. If Barris is telling the truth, this is what it must have been like. It's an interesting idea, and Clooney and Kaufman have taken it and crafted an enjoyable film.

8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Dated but a Tad Amusing, 29 February 2004
6/10

Loosely based on a Jules Verne novel, The Mysterious Island is set in a mythical kingdom by the sea where one of its leading royalty (Lionel Barrymore) doubles as cutting-edge scientist who invents the submarine and diving suit. In the course of exploring he and his buds discover a civilization of sea creatures that look like walking frogs and have the sensibilities of a pack of hyenas. There are also above-surface issues of betrayal, palace coups, wars, and young love.

Made on the cusp between silent and sound films, The Mysterious Island is caught somewhere in between; it is part talkie and part silent. Oddly there doesn't seem to be a dramatic or thematic rationale for deciding which scenes have sound and which don't. And why didn't the producers choose one format over the other for the entire movie? But they didn't, and this alone makes the film a novelty. Another reason to watch The Mysterious Island is the 1929-era special effects. They're a hoot. But even when these factors are taken in to account there is not much reason to invest the time in this movie.

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Dark Tod Browning-Lon Chaney Collaboration, 15 February 2004
7/10

Crippled during a confrontation with his wife's lover, Phroso, a famous English magician (Lon Chaney, Sr), vows to exact terrible revenge on wife and lover. A couple of year's later when the wife, fatally ill, returns to London with a young child, Phroso's plans are put into action. After she succumbs to her illness, Phroso emigrates to Africa with her child, where the wife's lover is an ivory trader, a vocation also undertaken by Phroso.

Now known as Dead-Legs he becomes the most feared and degenerate backcountry ivory trader west of Zanzibar. He raises his daughter, who he presumes is not his own, to be a drug-addicted prostitute. With his wife's child debased, he waits like a spider in his web for the man who cuckolded and then paralyzed him. Dark stuff, this.

It's a morbid although entertaining little tale, and Lon Chaney gives his usual top-notch performance, transitioning from the big-hearted Phroso to the crippled (in both body and sole) Dead-Legs. The movie is worth watching just for his performance. Tod Browning is in his element and delivers up a dark, creepy tale. So what that the plot twists are telegraphed from a mile away, and the portrayal of Africans is negatively stereotyped. If these shortcomings can be overlooked, this is a good example of the Browning-Chaney collaborations. Not bad for a silent film, which has a recorded soundtrack, coming as it did on the cusp of the transition to sound.

Le divorce (2003)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Clever Culture Clash, 11 February 2004
7/10

A young American woman arrives in France to visit her married and pregnant sister. Instead of a happy visit she stumbles into a trauma-stricken scene as the sister learns that her husband is leaving her for her another. Is the man's family sympathetic and supportive of the betrayed wife? Of course not, they're only disturbed by the timing of the departure…it looks in bad form to leave a pregnant wife. The American Mom, Dad, and Brother show up to help, especially to retrieve a valuable family painting that is in France with Sis, but a piece of property that the French family also covets. Complicating matters, the visiting sister begins an affair with the husband's married uncle, as a multitude of other characters begin to pop up.

The acting is mostly journeyman (although there are a few standouts like Stockard Channing as the American Mom), but is adequate for the material. Okay so it's also over plotted, overpopulated, and over done. I still enjoyed it, and would recommend it, although not heartily.


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